Yomitanzan hana-ori is a type of jacquard weave in which geometric patterns are woven into the fabric with colored thread. Patterns are derived from kasuri and finished textiles are made into kimono, obi sashes, handkerchiefs, as well decorative brocade items such as placemats. The textile is made with cotton or silk threads that have been dyed with natural dyes such as Ryukyu indigo, fukugi, tekachi (Rhaphiolepis umbellata), and china root (Smilax china). Yomitanzan minsā, another type of local textile produced around the same period that mainly assumes the form of narrower obi sashes, features the use of cotton thread and a type of embroidered weave known in the Okinawa language as tibana, where patterns are woven into fabric by hand without the use of weaving heddles.
The history of Yomitanzan hana-ori and Yomitanzan minsā can be traced to the late 14th century, when Tai-Ki, who was born in Uza, Yomitan, became the first Ryukyuan envoy to travel to China in 1372. His actions in forming a relationship of paying tribute to China established the start of a period of flourishing trade for the Ryukyu Kingdom from 1420. Interactions from trade allowed the early techniques of kasuri and float weave, which served as the roots of Yomitanzan hana-ori, to be introduced from China and Southeast Asia. Unique developments in Yomitanzan hana-ori based on these techniques were then passed down from generation to generation. However, political and administrative changes surrounding the transition from the Ryukyu Kingdom to Okinawa Prefecture in the early Meiji period slowed development of the textile industry in Yomitan. By the end of the Battle of Okinawa, both Yomitanzan hana-ori and Yomitanzan minsā had faded into obscurity.
The fabled, lost art of Yomitanzan hana-ori was not revived until 1964, when efforts that included workshops imparting weaving techniques initiated by a group of passionate volunteers culminated in revitalizing public interest. In 1975, the textile was designated as an intangible cultural asset by the prefecture of Okinawa and then as a nationally recognized traditional craft by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in the following year. In the same year, the Yomitanzan hana-ori Enthusiasts’ Association evolved formally into the Yomitan hana-ori Cooperative Association. Sada Yonamine, who was central in the revival of Yomitan village’s traditional weaving techniques, had his efforts recognized when he was appointed a living national treasure in 1999 by the government of Japan. Today, Yomitanzan hana-ori is recognized as a craft that represents not only Yomitan Village but also Okinawa, and is widely known throughout Japan and the world.
|Material||Silk thread, cotton thread|
|Place of manufacture||Yomitan Village|
|Main Products||Kimono, obi, table runners|
|Partnership name and date of establishment||Yomitanzan Hana-ori Business Cooperative Association, 1975|
|Date designated by national||1976|
|Date designated by prefecture||1974|
|Source||*Source: "An Outline of Promotion Strategies for the Craft Industry"|
Yomitanzan hana-ori and Yomitanzan minsā are produced only in Yomitan Village. Flourishing of the art of producing these two textiles briefly deteriorated in the middle of the Meiji era, but began regaining its vitality from 1961 and resumed full production capacities from 1973. In 1981, the Yomitan Village Traditional Craft Center was established to promote the industries of Yomitanzan hana-ori and yachimun (Okinawa pottery), while functioning as a center of production for Yomitanzan hana-ori, which eventually gained status as a regional brand in July 2009. Since then, products have expanded from kimono and obi to include functional items such as neckties and table runners.
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